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Librarians Save Ancient Manuscripts from Destruction

“When the moment of danger came, Ali Imam Ben Essayouti knew just what to do. The delicate, unbound parchment manuscripts in the 14th-century mosque he leads had already survived hundreds of years in the storied city of Timbuktu. He was not about to allow its latest invaders, Tuareg nationalist rebels and Islamic extremists from across the region, to destroy them now.”


Many of you may have already heard the news stories coming out of Mali regarding the heroic actions of various librarians and private citizens in the city of Timbuktu to preserve ancient manuscripts from destruction at the hands of the occupying forces of the Ansar Dine and Al Qaeda. The stories, particularly recounting the actions of the librarians at the Ahmed Baba Institute, make for particularly inspiring reading or listening.

New York Times: “As Extremists Invaded, Timbuktu Hid Artifacts of a Golden Age

NPR (audio & transcript): “Islamic Scholars Stay One Step Ahead of Vandals in Mali

Ahmed Baba Institute (includes online access to many of the books). Part of the larger Tomboctou Manuscripts Project.

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